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Arsenal team vs Southampton: Pepe starts as Arteta handed New signing Mat Ryan debut



Our Arsenal reporters pick their teams to face Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday

Arsenal will be looking to retain the trophy they won last summer as Mikel Arteta’s side face Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.

It’s the first of two games against the Saints in three days for Arsenal with a Premier League match coming up at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.

Here Arsenal reporters Kaya Kaynak and Chris Wheatley reveal who they’d pick

Kaya Kaynak – Arsenal writer

I’m expecting Mikel Arteta to rotate his side heavily for this FA Cup game and with such a big run of Premier League fixtures coming up, I’d be looking to do the same.

Mat Ryan is eligible to play against Southampton after being signed in time so I’d start him in goal over Runarsson who sadly cannot be trusted at this level.

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Kieran Tierney’s absence against Palace was monumental but it makes no sense to risk him in a cup match after his recent bout of muscle fatigue so I’d put Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left back again. Bukayo Saka could do a job but he needs a rest.

Cedric, Mustafi and Gabriel make up the rest of my back four.

In midfield Dani Ceballos should play if he’s fit alongside Mohamed Elneny to give Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey a break after their impressive displays against Newcastle on Monday.

Southampton have a considerable attacking threat so Joe Willock is too much of a risk in central midfield. I’d happily put him in at number ten though in place of Willian.

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Pepe needs to show more, but I’d give him a chance on the right and allow Gabriel Martinelli to continue his comeback on the left.

Up front it’s a tough choice between Flo Balogun and Eddie Nketiah, but if Arsenal genuinely want to keep Balogun then they’re going to have to start playing him more. Therefore he just about takes the starting spot for me.

Kaynak’s Starting XI: Ryan; Cedric, Mustafi, Gabriel, Maitland-Niles; Ceballos, Elneny; Pepe, Willock, Martinelli; Balogun

Chris Wheatley – Arsenal reporter

Mikel Arteta wants to challenge on all fronts this season but he’ll have to rest players with a crucial Premier League match coming up against the same opponents three days later.

New signing Mat Ryan has been signed for these kind of games and Bernd Leno is due a rest, which means the on-loan Brighton shot stopper should start between the sticks.

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Cedric has been impressive of late and is likely to continue at right-back, while the return of Gabriel alongside Rob Holding would be an ideal partnership in defence.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles wasn’t included in the previous matchday squad and will be hoping to fill in at left-back for the game at St Mary’s Stadium.

In midfield I’d expect Dani Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny to start, with either Joe Willock or Emile Smith Rowe in the no.10 role.

Gabriel Martinelli should give Arsenal some firepower upfront and Eddie Nketiah is another option in attack who is due some minutes.

Wheatley’s Starting XI: Ryan; Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Maitland-Niles; Ceballos, Elneny; Pepe, Willock, Martinelli; Nketiah.


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